Kalyn's Kitchen

French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child

French Pistou Sauce in honor of Julia Child is another delicious way to freeze fresh basil, and you’ll love pulling this out of the freezer! And this delicious sauce with fresh basil is dairy-free and freezes well! Use Fresh Herbs to find more recipes like this one.

Click here to PIN French Pistou Sauce!

French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child (dairy-free, can freeze)

For years I’ve been freezing fresh basil, and I’ve also used my garden basil to make basil pesto for the freezer. This year though, buzz about Julia Child, the upcoming movie of Julie and Julia, and thoughts of Soupe au Pistou inspired me to use my first basil pickings for French pistou sauce instead.

What’s the difference between pesto and pistou? A little quick research turned up many variations of Pistou. Some recipes include tomatoes, parsley, or other herbs, and Pistou may or may not have cheese. Most times though Pistou doesn’t contain nuts, and Pistou usually has more garlic in proportion to basil than pesto does. Pesto and Pistou are both best made to your own taste anyway, so here’s my version of Pistou, which I’m looking forward to drizzling on soup next winter.

Another Option for Freezing Fresh Basil: French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child found on KalynsKitchen.comThis is a medium-sized colander, but as you can see, I have rather a lot of basil. When you trim the basil, cut through the stems, being careful to leave some leaves on the stem to produce new plant growth. Pull or snip the leaves from the stems and wash in a salad spinner or wash in the sink and dry with paper towels. (I like to snip the leaves, because the basil turns your fingers black!) Put the washed and dried basil leaves in the food processor with the garlic and salt and process until finely chopped. Then add the olive oil and pulse just a few times to combine. You can also remove the chopped basil from the food processor and stir in the olive oil. I might do that next time, because if you over-process with the oil added, it gives the Pistou a cloudy “emulsified” look.

Another Option for Freezing Fresh Basil: French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child found on KalynsKitchen.com

I made quite a few batches of Pistou from the basil I picked, and froze it in 1/2 cup servings, which seemed to me like about the right amount to add to soup or mix into basil vinaigrette. I got 8 half-cup containers of Pistou from the basil I trimmed from my plants. After I filled the containers, I drizzled a little olive oil over the top of each to keep the basil from turning dark in the freezer. Just mix this oil into the Pistou when it’s thawed.

I recommend putting a label and the date on things you put in the freezer, even if you’re “sure” you will remember what it is! Have you ever made Pistou? If so, we’d love to hear about your Pistou recipes or ideas for using pistou in the comments.

French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child (Fresh Basil, Garlic, and Olive Oil Sauce)

French Pistou Sauce in honor of Julia Child is another delicious way to freeze fresh basil.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (very firmly packed into measuring cup)
  • 3 T chopped fresh garlic (or use garlic puree from a jar, although Julia would probably not approve)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp.)


  1. Wash and dry basil leaves and put in food processor. (This sauce can also be made with in small batches in a mortar and pestle if you’re feeling ambitious.)
  2. Add garlic and salt and process until basil is finely chopped (close to a minute, depending on your food processor.)
  3. Add oil and process only a few pulses (or remove the chopped basil to a bowl and stir in the oil, which is what I would do if I was only making one batch.)
  4. Place pistou into individual freezer-proof plastic containers with a tight lid.
  5. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top of the pistou in each container.


This recipe was adapted slightly from a blog that’s no longer online, with a peek at my one lonely Julia Child Cookbook!

All images and text ©

Recipes Where I’d Use My Basil Pistou:

Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Goat Cheese Holiday Spread
Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes
Basil Vinaigrette for Drizzling on Tomatoes
Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Basil Vinaigrette, and Fresh Herbs
Chickpea Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil

Julia Child’s Pistou Online:

Soupe au Pistou from The Blog That Ate Manhattan
Soupe au Pistou from One Perfect Bite
Soupe au Pistou from Cooking in Color
Vegetable Soup Provencal from Ms. Glaze’s Pommes d’Amour
Chunky Pistou Soup from Dhangitt’s Kitchen
Provencal Soupe au Pistou from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

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    37 Comments on “French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child”

  1. Joanne, farmers market????

    Margaret, lucky you (and my pleasure to include your soup!)

    TW, have to admit I was surprised at how many variations there were, but I went for the pure version!

    Katerine, perfect for that!

    Sealharvey, what a thrill! Thanks for sharing the memory.

  2. Love basil. The smell wakes me right up. I sponsored a book signing with Julia Child. Not only was she particularly nice to every single person. She also stayed extra and when leaving was approached by
    a late customer and again took the time to be kind. She had the biggest turnout of any writer that I sponsored. Seriously lines right out the door.

  3. I sometimes make pistou in the spring and stir it into vegetable soup. Delicious!

  4. I had pistou in a soup last week and was asking myself the same question! Thanks for clearing this up – I am going to grab a bunch more basil at the farm next week and give this a shot.

  5. I've already harvested my basil twice this season, and it's ready for another picking. Thanks for this recipe. (and for the link)


  6. I really like anything pesto-like. I keep kicking myself for not stocking up on basil yet and making massive batches of pesto to freeze!

  7. Nutrid1, basil is easy to grow from seed. I plant a few plants for some early basil and then plant rows of seeds. The only painful part is thinning the little baby plants. If you use seeds, you can have armloads of basil for little cost.

    Dhanggit, thanks. Don't you just love the smell of fresh-picked basil?

  8. Oh I love that healthy green look of your basil. So rich in vitamins and yumminess! What a great entry for WHB! Thanks 🙂

  9. Pistou or pesto, it sure is nice to use in a soup in the middle of winter.
    You sure have lots of fresh basil in your garden. Nest year, I'll plant more basil…

  10. Dara, the basil is doing pretty well. My garden is finally getting going, but there are so many weeds!

    Chris, I'm guessing I have about 30 plants. I start a lot of them from seed, highly recommend it!

    Daisy, I've been doing it for years.

    Lydia, can't wait to use this in winter.

    Kevin, works very well.

    Frieda, I agree, that bugs me in a recipe too!

    Linda, very similar!

    Meghan, perfect for you. Get freezing!

    Amy, here's the information on how to freezer fresh basil. You coat the chopped basil with olive oil.

    Poulsen family, perfect for nut allergies.

  11. Thanks for sharing that, my son is allergic to nuts and I never realized there was another version without nuts, I'll have to try that out.

  12. Hi Kalyn,

    Can you tell me how you freeze fresh basil?? I thought if you didn't make it into a pesto or sauce it would turn brown.

    I made my pesto pretty traditionally this year – toasted walnuts & pinenuts, parm, olive oil. It's spicy and rich…just incredibly delicious.

  13. This is very funny because I made a Pistou Pizza this past weekend! I'm allergic to pinenuts so pistou is a better option for me than traditional pesto! Thank you for this post, it reminds me I need to start freezing down my basil plant 🙂

  14. Never knew of pistou only pesto, but basil either way.

  15. Thank you for the 'measurement' of basil! I have seen so many recipes that called for 1 lb. or 2 oz….I don't have an accurate scale and one pound sounds like a lot! Also, thanks for the tips on cutting and freezing~

  16. This is the first that I have heard of a pistou sauce but it sounds like a great way to enjoy some basil!

  17. I love having fundamental sauces like this in my freezer. Come the middle of winter, there are so many ways to use it, and it feels like a treat to have the fresh taste of basil from the garden when there's snow on the ground.

  18. Hmmm…freezing fresh basil. I could do that! I've tried bringing my herb plants indoors in the fall, but they never seem to survive the transition.

  19. Good idea. I only have 7 basil plants this year, so I won't have anything left over to save. I'm picking those poor things dry:)

  20. Wow, what a basil crop you have! I'd be quite happy to drizzle this pistou straight into my mouth, but more traditional uses are also very appealing.